Red mites in poultry

Oh, how the (MITE)Y have fallen…

While we are closer to approaching autumn and fall, we are still having record heat in North Carolina.  A few issues that have been brought up on poultry blogs and questionnaires is that backyard farmers have seen a rise in their poultry having bloody vents. 

When looking closer at their birds, they notice what they perceive as “little red dots” within crevices and joints of poultry. The first time that I saw the issues of the red dots, I automatically assumed it was the little red crawly things that you see when you sit on a brick wall. You know, the ones where you can smash with your finger and it leaves a red streak behind? However, in poultry, these “little red dots” are known as red mites or Dermanyssus gallinae. What are red mites you might ask?

The nocturnal, parasitic red mites particularly increase during the warmer summer months and live on chickens, turkeys and in fact, over 30 different species of wild birds (PoultryDVM, 2019). Because of the warm weather and an increase in the body temperature of poultry, these red mites have an environment that is perfect for growth and reproduction. Typically, these mites are not noticed until they explode in population. Red mites are normally a light gray/cream color, almost transparent until they feed on blood, which creates the bright to dull red color. 

Throughout the other blogs, we have mentioned symptoms or signs to look out for when you fear that your birds are not doing their best such as pale comb, drop in egg production, restlessness, etc… well, yet again, these symptoms are the same with a population increase in red mites and them feasting on your feather-babies. Specifically, chicks are more susceptible to mite infestation because of the deadly saliva that is left on the skin. While there are certain medications that you can use to eliminate the mites, it is best to eliminate the possibility of the problem occurring – be proactive, not reactive.

Always try and clean out the bedding of your coop every six months and replace it with new. During the weeks between these periods, add more bedding to help ensure that your birds are happy and healthy – the extra bedding will help eliminate filth. When you do replace all bedding, though, try and sanitize the entire coop with a disinfectant of some sort. Before warmer months, sprinkle the entire coop and chickens with red mite powder (Omlet, 2019). Also, try adding supplemental health products like Chicken DeLyte to your chickens’ daily diets to help ensure that when disaster does strike, your birds are healthy enough to deal with the stresses.                 

Omlet. Do your chickens have red mites? Retrieved August 6, 2019, from

PoultryDVM. Red poultry mites in Chickens. Retrieved August 6, 2019, from

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